the amount it lowers the resolution is the same, the total area that it effects is less. i don't think that makes it less of a problem: if it's as prevalent as it is on the arm, then that general area of the image has a different perceived resolution then the surrounding areas, drawing attention to that spot. it would only be less of a problem is attention were dispersed evenly over a piece, imo.
i can see that the lack of highlights and subsequent lack of depth is also distracting, i guess it just depends on which aspect the specific viewer finds most distracting. we agree that both detract from the image.
The boy's left arm's one half is a huge chunk of banding. But it doesn't hurt as much as it would hurt, say, a 64x64px sprite, naturally. So yes the size indeed matters how big is banding a problem. It lowers perceived resolution at a higher rate on smaller sprites.
But a sprite of this size, mainly consisting of flat colors kills the depth and that bothers me a lot more.
why would the size of the piece change whether or not banding is a problem? it lowers the perceived resolution at any size, and banding as severe as that on the arm is more than evident at 1x.
In a piece of this size I don't think banding is a real problem. But lack of highlights is.
haha, that's cool!